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The Black Art of Perl Programming?

by Anonymous Monk
on Nov 18, 2002 at 19:50 UTC ( #213863=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Why is it that when I walk into a Barnes & Noble Bookstore and check out the computer book section, there are about 5 or 8 Perl books and about 60 Java books?

The Java books have titles like "The Black Art of Java Game programming" or "Enterprise Business Solutions with Java" or "Java for 3D and Vrml".

I'm sorry guys, but what which language *looks* more worthwhile (or even cool) to learn?

There are some interesting Perl books out there that are not seeing the light of day at most book stores, but I just have to roll my eyes when I see any Perl book that has "CGI" in the title. That little word is the kiss of death.

Not too long ago I picked up an excellent book on CGI. It mentioned Mason, mod_perl, and all sorts of great stuff, but again it had the word "CGI" in the title. Please no more!

I keep reading about how Perl can do almost anything Java can do, etc. Well, then, where the hell are the books?

Comment on The Black Art of Perl Programming?
Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by Mr. Muskrat (Abbot) on Nov 18, 2002 at 20:33 UTC

    Try a different store! I find that Fry's Electronics has a better selection of programming books than any book store!

    The best place to find books is not at a brick and mortar store at all but on the net. Try O'Reilly Perl for the best Perl books money can buy.

      Which Fry's? I haven't seen a very good selection there ever - at least not at the Sunnyvale location.

      However Digital Guru rocks for programming books ( which is just about a block or so away ) and IMHO beats the pants off Computer Literacy's store. Only problem is you can't get a candy bar or beef jerky while waiting in line at Digital Guru. ;)

      There is no emoticon for what I'm feeling now.

        The Arlington, TX location has more books than software.

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by hossman (Prior) on Nov 18, 2002 at 20:36 UTC

    A quick search of a large online bookstore turned up some interesting titles...

    • Network Programming with Perl
    • Perl & XML (O'Reilly Perl)
    • Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics
    • Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C
    • ...

      As I said: there's about 5 to 8 books out there. How old is Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C? Please! Yes, there's a ton of good Perl books, but you will not find most of them at the big mega chains (ie, Borders, Books-a-million, Barnes & Noble). What you will find is the Camel, the Llama, the Rat, maybe the Panther, and a few others like Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics. But my point is that you will not find a selection that even approaches the Java selection. And quite frankly, I just find the Java titles a lot more appealing than titles like "Perl for Website Management" (which I'm sure is a great book, by the way) or "Perl for System Administration" (again, how long has this book been out?).

      Just try to imagine yourself as a non-programmer or even a novice walking into one of these stores. Which language do you think you will be drawn to?

        There are 24 listings on http://perl.oreilly.com that don't contain CGI in the title....
        Just try to imagine yourself as a non-programmer or even a novice walking into one of these stores. Which language do you think you will be drawn to?

        Perl, clearly. If there aren't that many books out on the shelves, obviously it must be fairly easy to learn!
        I think you're looking it partly from the wrong angle. Some of the Perl books were published 2 or 3 years ago, but those that haven't been updated for the most part don't need it.

        I have C books that are around 20 years old and are still current for learning the language. Just because a book is old doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

        However, I do agree that Java (and VB) take up far too much space on the shelves. I also agree that the use of CGI in the book title has started to be seen as a bad thing. Too many CGI application written in Perl have had bad press simply because of bad experiences from several years ago. Perl has been getting a facelift in recent times and some of the really good books (such as Perl & XML, Perl for Bioinformatics and even Perl for System Administration) will hopefully make people more aware that there is more to Perl than CGI.

        But how do we change this? One way is to write lots of reviews for the Perl books you have and add them to various sites to give them a bit more notoriety.

        Also if you are asking for a particular book and $bookstore doesn't have it in stock, ask them to do a look up to see how much it is and when it would be available. Some stores record look ups to see what people are requesting. If a book is getting more requests, but it's always out of stock, very quickly you are likely to find in back on the shelves.

        At the end of the day, it's all about promotion.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        Barbie
        Birmingham Perl Mongers
        Web Site: http://birmingham.pm.org/
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Perl for System Administration is out for just over 2 years. So what? Nothing relevant to the book has changed since. Sure, 5.8 came out, but so what? The new things in 5.8 are mostly related to Unicode, threading and internals stuff. Hardly relevant for the sysadmin. Neither has Unix changed much in the last 2 years, we didn't just abandon processes or /etc.

        Sure, the quality of the book isn't very high (just like many other O'Reilly books), but I don't expect a second edition suddenly would.

        Books like "The Art of Computer Programming" and "Advanced Programming in the UNIX environment" were written before most (all?) Perl books. And they are more useful for a programmer (even a Perl programmer) than all "Perl" books combined.

        The quality of good books doesn't decay over time.

        Abigail

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by perrin (Chancellor) on Nov 18, 2002 at 21:29 UTC
    Book stores stock books that they think they can sell. More people are buying Java books. There are many reasons for this, and not all of them are positives for Java. The bottom line though is that Java is currently a more popular language in the world at large, and if you're going to get upset every time you see evidence of that you're in for a rough ride.

    If your complaint is that the Perl books look too practical and not fun enough (does "Enterprise Business Solutions with Java" sound fun?), then I'd say you're missing a major point in the Perl culture. Perl is about results, not about buzzwords. It isn't cool and it doesn't care. (By the way, there are books on graphics programming and web services with Perl coming out soon from O'Reilly.)

      It isn't cool and it doesn't care.

      Why not care? Why shouldn't a language care about its image? Can't Perl be cool and get the job done? How about book titles like:

      Perl for E-commerce

      3D Graphic Programming with OpenGL, Renderman, and Perl.

      Game programming with Perl

      Mod_perl is tremendous tool for large e-commerce sites. But oh no, we have to have book titles like Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C, or the Mod_Perl Cookbook. Do you see what I mean?

      Ultimately, my point goes beyond image. My point is that obvious uses for Perl are not being marketed to the masses. And that's such a shame.

        The sort of specialization you're citing here is something that you can do when you have a large market available. Perl's market may not be large enough to support entire books on these niche concerns.

        The only reason anyone needs a book on games in Java is because there's a demand for Java applet games. The number of people writing games or doing 3D graphics in Perl is tiny, so a publisher would probably not make any money on those books.

        The e-commerce book idea isn't bad. I don't think there's anything special about e-commerce (as opposed to other kinds of web apps), but I suppose it could be a sort of general web application book that uses examples from commerce situations.

        Of course the Java books I own may reveal why I'm not very insterested in sexy titles: Java in a Nutshell, Java Cookbook...

        Why shouldn't a language care about its image?

        To the best of my knowledge Perl has not yet become sentient and is thus unable to care about its image. :-)

        I find all of the suggested titles incredible boring, and I would have to surpress the urge to throw the book far away. And I really fail to see what's so exciting about "3D graphic programming with OpenGL, Renderman, and Perl" when "Writing Apache modules with Perl and C" doesn't do it for you. Both titles more or less have the same structure.

        To me it looks like you rather want different subjects, not just fancy titles.

        As for marketing Perl to the masses, no thanks. With the internet hype, Perl has attracted many new programmers, most of them of rather poor quality. I'd rather see them go.

        Abigail

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by mikeirw (Pilgrim) on Nov 18, 2002 at 21:47 UTC

    I know I'm just stating the obvious here, but in addition to what perrin and others mentioned, I'd like to add that quantity != quality. Every Perl book I've read or skimmed through (with only a couple of exceptions) has been very useful and of the highest quality. I can't say the same for other languages.

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Nov 19, 2002 at 12:57 UTC
    You want more Perl books in stores? Buy more Perl books! Bookstores and publishers are market driven. If Java books sell more than Perl books, you find more Java books in the stores. And given that Java is far more popular than Perl, that's not very surprising.

    Abigail

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by AcidHawk (Vicar) on Nov 19, 2002 at 13:43 UTC

    Since, at the office, I am always told that perl has speed issues.. how about a book entitled "Learn Perl in 24 seconds"... This is about how long it feels to get started with some code as opposed to some other languages.... would that be sexy enough

    -----
    Of all the things I've lost in my life, its my mind I miss the most.
      Since, at the office, I am always told that perl has speed issues

      Speed issues is a common criticism of CGI. Maybe your co-workers keep seeing Perl CGI books everywhere. I know I do.

      It would be nice to see more mod_perl books. How about something on T2T. I know that there is a book on Slash, but I can hardly ever find it. I like what I see coming from Manning Publications. (They are the ones who did OO Perl.) But their books are hard to find.

      Maybe the problem is that Perl is no longer seen as sexy.

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by helgi (Hermit) on Nov 19, 2002 at 14:13 UTC
    Perl people don't need 60 books to learn everything they need. Most programmers just need one and then they discover how to RTFM and after that, its perldoc all the way. If Java had the equivalent of perldoc they couldn'y sell all those fancy schmancy books.

    ;-)

    --
    Regards,
    Helgi Briem
    helgi AT decode DOT is

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by amarceluk (Beadle) on Nov 19, 2002 at 15:52 UTC
    I'm sorry guys, but what which language *looks* more worthwhile (or even cool) to learn?

    The question shouldn't be whether a language is cool to learn, but whether it's effective to use. And as for being worthwhile, it depends on whether you think the black art of game programming is worthwhile. (Maybe I'm just boring, and using Perl for data manipulation and file management is boring, too, but it gets the job done quickly, easily and efficiently.)

    Not too long ago I picked up an excellent book on CGI. It mentioned Mason, mod_perl, and all sorts of great stuff, but again it had the word "CGI" in the title. Please no more!

    It would be hard to find books on CGI if they didn't have "CGI" in the title.

    __________
    "Abby-somebody. Abby-normal."
    Young Frankenstein
      Maybe I'm just boring, and using Perl for data manipulation and file management is boring, too, but it gets the job done quickly, easily and efficiently.

      Yes, file management is boring. Sometimes data manipulation can be boring, too. Maybe I am a fan of the wrong language? But there's more to Perl than those 2 things.

      It would be hard to find books on CGI if they didn't have "CGI" in the title.

      You are missing my point. Why just mention CGI? How about having a book that deals with Perl CGI scripts that are geared toward e-commerce situations? Think about it: the author can discuss security with Perl (e.g., taint mode and different modules, etc) and then move on to other issues in e-commerce. But if I had a choice, I wouldn't mention CGI at all. I would discuss mod_perl, Apache, and maybe something else.

      Reading my posts, I get the impression that I am coming across as somewhat of a troll. I don't want to give that impression. I started this thread because it just seems to me that the Perl books out there are so bland. I care about Perl's image.

        Tell me, what's so specific about e-commerce with Perl? I would think that if e-commerce is a term that actually carries a meaning more than just being a buzz-word, it's problems and solutions are language independent. I'd treat a book with the title "E-commerce with Perl" the same a book with the title "Cross country driving with a Crysler".

        Security isn't a topic that's e-commerce specific - and the fact that an e-commerce site needs to address security isn't something that's only important for e-commerce sites using Perl.

        If you think that books about CGI shouldn't mention CGI in the title, than perhaps books about gaming shouldn't mention games, and books about e-commerce shouldn't mention e-commerce. Hey, that's it! Perhaps the book "CGI Programming with Perl" is actually about e-commerce, but they didn't want to mention e-commerce because someone convinced them that that wasn't cool.

        Abigail

        Yes, file management is boring. Sometimes data manipulation can be boring, too. Maybe I am a fan of the wrong language? But there's more to Perl than those 2 things.

        There are, and I wouldn't call myself a representative of People Who Use Perl. Clearly there's more to it than my (boring) job requires. But I suspect the core Perl users are people with, if not boring, at least un-sexy jobs; they use Perl because it gets those jobs done. An awful lot of programming is data and file management. Cool things can be done with Perl, but, alas, many people don't have cool jobs.

        You are missing my point. Why just mention CGI? How about having a book that deals with Perl CGI scripts that are geared toward e-commerce situations? Think about it: the author can discuss security with Perl (e.g., taint mode and different modules, etc) and then move on to other issues in e-commerce. But if I had a choice, I wouldn't mention CGI at all. I would discuss mod_perl, Apache, and maybe something else.

        Yes, the more descriptive a book's title is, the better; but on the other hand, if it's too long it just gets ridiculous. You also seem to want very specific books to exist, rather than more all-encompassing books that cover the fundamentals; I guess "Perl for e-Commerce" would be useful on some level, but then, a good basic book about CGI programming could teach you what you need to know to do e-commerce yourself, and you wouldn't have shelled out another thirty-five dollars on another book.

        Reading my posts, I get the impression that I am coming across as somewhat of a troll. I don't want to give that impression. I started this thread because it just seems to me that the Perl books out there are so bland. I care about Perl's image.

        With all due respect, you might be perceived as less trollish if you didn't post anonymously.

        __________
        "Abby-somebody. Abby-normal."
        Young Frankenstein
Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 20, 2002 at 01:33 UTC
    Okay, so I don't seem out of step with reality. Here's a list of actual books:

  • Professional Java E-Commerce
  • Java Commerce and Security Programming: Create Reliable, Secure, and Private Transactions Over the Internet
  • Building e-Commerce Applications Using Oracle8i and Java From Scratch
  • Java Developer's Guide to E-Commerce with XML and JSP
  • Oracle 8i and Java: From Client Server to E-Commerce
  • Java Electronic Commerce Sourcebook: All the Software and Expert Advice You Need to Open Your Own Virtual Store

    And there's many more . . .

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Nov 20, 2002 at 17:56 UTC
    From what I've seen, I'd dare to guess the number of decent Java books roughly equals that of decent Perl books. The rest is just buzzword compliant waste of paper. Whatever's currently popular will have tons of books in its name crowding the shelves. Why should we care?

    Makeshifts last the longest.

      Whatever's currently popular will have tons of books in its name crowding the shelves.

      I just don't like seeing Perl marginalized at the bookstore. Books are a medium just like Cyberspace.

      From what I've seen, I'd dare to guess the number of decent Java books roughly equals that of decent Perl books.

      Perl has a number of superb books. But Java has more books covering a wider array of subjects than Perl.

Re: The Black Art of Perl Programming?
by Mr. Muskrat (Abbot) on Nov 16, 2005 at 20:11 UTC

    My recently found favorite book store (brick & mortar as well as online) is nerdbooks.com.

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